Cancer Prevention Study-3: Bemidji Relay For Life to take historic leap
In 1950, the American Cancer Society began the study that definitively linked cigarette smoking with lung cancer.
Now, the American Cancer Society has embarked on another long-term study designed to follow healthy people who have never been diagnosed with cancer throughout the next 20-30 years.
Bemidji is one of four Minnesota cities chosen for the nationwide Cancer Prevention Study-3. Aynsley Kluchnik, a speech pathologist at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center, is organizing the study. She said Bemidji was chosen because of the success of the local Relay For Life, which draws about 1,000 people, and because of the diversity of the population.
"The goal is to prevent cancer so our children and grandchildren don't have to hear the words, 'You have cancer,'" she said.
Anyone between the ages of 30 and 65 who will commit to filling out surveys on paper or online at home every few years is eligible for the study. The Bemidji Relay For Life will be held from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. July 23 at the Sanford Center. A tent will be set up to accommodate those willing to take part in the study. Enrollment in CPS-3 will be held from 4-8 p.m.
Volunteers for the study will sign a consent form, fill out an initial survey, provide a waist measurement and give a small blood sample drawn by a trained phlebotomist. They will then receive in the mail a longer medical history and lifestyle form to return to the American Cancer Society.
Kluchnik said she has been involved in the Bemidji Relay For Life for seven years, but the 2010 relay held special meaning for her. Last year's relay marked the first time she took part while someone close to her was a cancer patient.
Her father, Donald Kluchnik, received his diagnosis of liver cancer Christmas Eve 2009.
She said she felt helpless in dealing with his disease.
"I can't take the cancer out of his body," she said.
But, the CPS-3 is a way people can combat cancer.
"I hope to be the first one to walk through the tent," she said.
The American Cancer Society's goal is to have 500,000 people nationally enrolled in the CPS-3 by 2013.
"This is just such an amazing opportunity for everyone," Kluchnik said. "This is so much bigger than any one person. It's an opportunity to be part of history."
As she was lighting the luminaries at the relay last summer, she said it occurred to her how advanced cancer treatment has become. She said her father is in treatment, but has never felt or looked ill. Research that has made his good condition possible has been funded over the years by Relay For Life.